By  on June 4, 2010

Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc.’s robust sales across the beauty chain lifted first-quarter earnings 177.7 percent.

For the 13-week period ended May 1, the Bolingbrook, Ill.-based retailer generated net income of $13.7 million, or 23 cents a diluted share, compared with $4.9 million, or 8 cents, in the prior-year period.

Net sales climbed 19.1 percent, to $320.2 million from $268.8 million, and were up 10.8 percent on a same-store basis.

“Our sales growth was balanced across all major categories and our comparable-store sales included increases in both customer counts and average ticket,” stated Lyn Kirby, Ulta’s chief executive officer. “We also accomplished this with a 70-basis-point increase in merchandise margin and 40 basis points of leverage in marketing. These operating improvements, along with our continued discipline in managing our cost structure, led to a more than doubling in our operating earnings and a nearly threefold increase in earnings per share for the quarter.”

Ulta ended the quarter with 347 stores and plans to open approximately 46 new doors, remodel 13 and relocate six in fiscal 2010.

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